What Do You Think You're Doing?

What Do We Think We’re Doing?  Supporting Dynamic Continuing Education in Changing Landscapes

Helen Blier, PhD.

The challenge confronted by graduates of our theological schools are perhaps more knotty than ever before. Everything seems to be in flux; the church, the world, and what constitutes “ministry” are all undergoing quantum changes.  How can theological schools adequately prepare their students for this work?  This is where continuing education and lifelong programs make a crucial contribution to the ongoing relevance and vitality of this work – continuing the process of supporting ministers vocationally and professionally as they navigate the changing landscapes of their work.  Intended for both continuing education directors and current theological school faculty, this workshop will explore the who, what, and how of sustaining a nimble and relevant continuing education program within the larger context of ministry education and practice:  Who are our participants likely to be, and what ministries are they doing?  What are they likely to need?  And how do we continually assess and reshape our programs?  

Helen is a graduate of Emory University (Ph.D.) and Boston College (M.Ed. and A.B., theology). She joined the Seminary staff in September 2013. She was the former director of student information and organizational evaluation at the Association for Theological Schools (ATS). There she oversaw the administration and use of data-gathering instruments used by the member seminaries as well as consulted with schools to construct assessment protocols for institutional, student learning, and degree program outcomes. She also regularly presented at ATS and Lilly Endowment Inc. events on student data trends and assessment. Blier likewise has conducted research at Auburn Seminary’s Center for the Study of Theological Education and Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion.

In addition to her work with ATS, Blier has taught at Boston College in the Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, Duquesne University, and Candler School of Theology. She has also served as an academic counselor at Emory College. As a research consultant, Blier worked with the directors of summer programs for high school youth at Candler School of Theology, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and Duke University Divinity School to design and implement qualitative research protocols to investigate issues of youth faith development and vocational discernment. Her publications and presentations have generally focused on theological education and youth ministry. Blier is a member of the Religious Education Association, American Academy of Religion, and International Association for the Study of Youth Ministry